Applying For A US Visa During The Pandemic: Things You Should Know
19 August 2021
Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd.
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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel
has been difficult or, in some cases, impossible. As a result, it
has been difficult for non-US Citizens to apply for visas, either
new visas or renewals. At the present time, many US Embassies and
Consulates remain closed and are not processing visas or are
processing visas on a limited basis. In the case of travelers from
Europe, most travel related restrictions remain in place, most
notably the travel bans in place for the “Schengen”
countries. Similarly, travelers from certain Asian, Middle Eastern
and South American countries are subject to similar travel bans.
Persons who have been residing in these countries continue to be
prohibited from entering the United States unless they first obtain
a “national interest exception” from the US Consulate
in their place of residence. Depending on the country where a
person resides, the National Interest Exception process can take
anywhere from 1 day (Luxembourg) to 28 days (London). It should be
noted that travel restrictions are not based on citizenship, but
residence, and it is possible to avoid the travel ban or
application for a National Interest Exception by staying in a
country that is not subject to a travel ban for 14 days.
With regard to applying for work related visas, most Consulates
in Europe have either ceased processing applications or are only
processing select applications. Registering for E status at the
European posts is particularly problematic as the US Embassy
advises that registration applications are taking up to eight
months, and the US Consulate in Istanbul is not accepting
registration applications. Potential visa applicants will be
disappointed to know that most US Consulates are limiting third
country nationals from applying at the Consulate unless they are
residents of the country. A bright spot in visa processing is that
the US Consulates in Japan continue to accept and process all work
visa applications, allow for the filing of renewals by mail, and
process E visa registrations in approximately 3 – 4
Consequently, individuals who are planning to travel
internationally for the holidays should start the visa application
or renewal process well in advance of their intended trip to
account for potential delays taking into account the travel
restrictions currently in place.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Originally Appeared On: https://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/work-visas/1103292/applying-for-a-us-visa-during-the-pandemic-things-you-should-know